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Option bears are swarming Cirrus Logic, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRUS - 28.79) this afternoon, with traders picking up puts to gamble on an extended retreat for the tech concern. In early afternoon action, CRUS has seen roughly 6,900 puts cross the tape -- about four times the norm.
Digging deeper, skeptics are establishing new positions at the February 25 put, which has seen nearly 1,300 contracts change hands on open interest of just 310 contracts. Eighty-five percent of the puts have traded at the ask price, underscoring our suspicions of buyer-driven volume.
By purchasing the puts to open, the buyers expect CRUS to breach the $25 level within the next several weeks. More specifically, the puts traded at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.74, meaning the buyers will profit if CRUS retreats beneath the $24.26 level (strike minus VWAP) by the closing bell on Friday, Feb. 15. However, even if CRUS remains north of the $25 region -- which has acted as support since late April -- the most the speculators can lose is the initial premium paid for the puts.
Considering CRUS' technical tenacity of late -- the stock has advanced about 14% since touching the $25.31 level in mid-December -- the aforementioned puts could be hedges. By purchasing the puts, the CRUS shareholders are locking in an acceptable selling price for their stake ($25), should the equity breach this level in the short term. However, since they're shareholders above all else, their primary goal is for CRUS to resume its recent rebound; the puts are simply options "insurance."
Whatever the motive, today's appetite for long puts goes against the grain. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculators have purchased nearly five CRUS calls for every put during the past two weeks. In fact, the stock's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 4.88 registers in the 63rd percentile of its annual range, suggesting option buyers have initiated bullish bets at a slightly quicker step than usual.
Likewise, the security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.49 indicates that calls more than double puts among options expiring within three months. Compared to similar readings of the past year, this ratio ranks in the 22nd percentile, implying that near-term options traders are more call-skewed than usual right now.
However, it's no surprise that option players are picking up CRUS puts today. The stock was last seen 8.8% lower -- and clinging to its 10-week moving average -- thanks to signs of ebbing demand for Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5. Sector peer and fellow AAPL supplier QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) is also trading in the red.